Microsoft

Microsoft Azure Outages May be Problematic for New Cloud Service Offerings

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Microsoft Azure has experienced a number of service outages in August including another one Monday that lasted for five hours.

According to the Azure service status log there were 10 incidents reported since Friday. On Aug. 14,Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online, which runs on Azure, also had a major outage. Services affected this round were in SQL database, storage, virtual machines and cloud services in Europe. Customers were unable to access their resources during the outage.

The outages come after an announcement on Monday regarding new specialized cloud services for Office 365 that address the needs of law firms. The document management application Matter Center for Office 365 was announced at the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference. The service is integrated with Office 365 and offers legal professionals the opportunity to organize and collaborate on files within the Office 365 framework.

Benefits of the Matter Center include cloud-based virtual briefcase, document collaboration, enhanced security and an ability to maximize ROI for IT departments. It is available in limited beta from Microsoft.

With Microsoft adding new cloud services and moving its infrastructure to the Azure cloud it will be important for the company to address these recent outages that resulted in an inability for customers to reach their data for several hours, a timeframe that is unacceptable by business standards. Bloomberg reported it as the most severe Azure outage incident since February 2013.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is committed to “mobile first, cloud first.” According to a Microsoft blog post on Monday, the company is moving towards this ideal.

“We started with a vision: ‘All of Microsoft runs in the cloud.’ Microsoft IT has adopted a cloud-first approach to applications and workloads, which supports the vision,” according to the post. “We have been using Microsoft Azure as the default infrastructure for new applications and workloads to further this cloud strategy. In addition to implementing this policy for new applications and workloads, we continue to extend the cloud-first vision by assessing existing infrastructure for cloud migration. These efforts will help us meet the challenges of EOL and closure of physical data centers.”

Specialized secured cloud services are a trend and area of growth for service providers. A recent report say that HIPAA compliance and security are the top concerns amongst US healthcare providers. With hackers stealing 4.5 million patient records in an incident last week, this will surely continue to be a concern and point of differentiation for hosting and cloud providers going forward.

Recent specialized offerings by other companies include Lumen21 with IaaS Compliant Cloud for organizations with specialized data needs (finance, healthcare, retail, etc), Online Tech with a new data center that provides HIPAA, PCI, SOX and Safe Harbor hosting, Alibaba with online payment systems for Chinese banks and Layered Tech offering free cloud hosting to healthcare startups.

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